29 April 2011

Mobile Trust and Privacy - Now A Major Motion Picture

Starring Steve Jobs and Larry Page as the evil villains. With Cameo roles by just about everybody.

This major disaster movie should rival epic disaster movies such as The Towering Inferno.

OK so enough of the fun - let's get down to the serious issues. As users and developers rush into mobile and the desktop starts to be less and less sexy to developers - the process of development has fallen into two camps. Lazy coders and evil coders.

One would be tempted to assume that no one does things for overtly evil reasons. But they do. In the case of mobile the number of pigs snouts in the trough is actually increased. Everyone wants to be like Apple - gouging themselves on as many possible revenue streams as possible. The poor longer tail players are left to pick over the consumer's carcass for some way to get some revenue. Trust the Cringe to give us a good perspective on this.

The convergence of these forces results in some pretty bad behaviour by the developers and anyone who wants to provide services. Fortunately on the web nothing gets hidden for long. God bless the transparency and those people who are just so darn curious for their 5 minutes of fame and at monitoring the big players.

So what of the general consumer. Fred Bloggs, Jean Marie, John Q Public etc etc. These guys our generalist consumer is very trusting. More so in the USA than in Europe. In other geographies - it is expected that monitoring is a standard form off behaviour for big government and big business. Good luck to them!

But this is not good enough. Despite the warnings from the Professor amongst a failure large chorus of players who have been trying to bring to the consumer these issues - we now have some major lapses and indeed solid evidence that there has been evil going on and these companies have been player fast and loose with our private information.

As I have opined many many times - there are two parts to messing with our privacy. First you have to actually monitor behaviour. Second you have to do something with that information. Most people have assumed that the monitoring is benign. Therefore the focus up till now has been on the misuse/abuse of the information collected. Indeed this is perhaps a defining characteristic that separates the European approach to the US approach towards privacy. The US approach says you can do about anything you like but dont mess with the stuff afterwards to take advantage. It also works on the 11th Commandment principal - "Thou Shalt Not Be Caught".

So lets's now look at some hard data. A good report by eTrust and Harris Interactive shows that actually contrary to the way the mobile players have been trying to hide this issue under the carpet the consumers have started to really appreciate the problems. And yes they are getting really concerned. From a study conducted in February 2011 - IE long before the relevations of the transgressions by Apple and Google in mobile - consumers had showed they were getting very nervous. about the top 3 issues of privacy, security and identity. You can download the whole report at the link above.

Infoworld went even further to address the issue form the developers point of view. Click on this story "Why Users Dont Trust Mobile Apps".

Just in case developers think they can get away with it - I would not advise you to make that assumption. From the Harris/eTrust survey:

So now we are all just a little bit aware. Despite the Black Turle'd One coming off his sick bed to try and quell the storm , the cat is out of the bag.

And this time Steve McQueen is not going to be rescuing the bad dudes. And as in all good disaster movies - The bad guys will perish.



Henry Harteveldt said...

"The Towering Inferno," Professor? Why not the original versions of either "Airport" or "Poseidon Adventure." At least they were travel-related.

Anonymous said...

True enough but there were at least 2 villains in TTI vs none really in Airport and Poseidon where the enemy was the elements.

So I was thinking that Jobs and Page could be the villains such as the sleezy Richard Chamberlain character.

Glenn Gruber said...

Professor, I agree with the premise that you have to be concerned with security. But as in many surveys, I think the results have been influenced by the way the question was posed. It would be more interesting to see how many people are actually concerned with security as opposed to selecting the only options provided to them.

But I think you also need to acknowledge the reasons provided by Apple for tracking locations...as a replacement for the location data they used to get from SkyHook Wireless and Google who were getting it the same way. I'd suggest your readers look at the Apple response (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2011/04/27location_qa.html) & MG Siegler's article on the subject (http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/27/apple-iphone-location/) for a broader perspective.